In the case of Heard v. Thomas, 6th Cir. No. 22-5699 (June 26, 2023), a federal appellate court held that the school resource officer’s use of force against a student may have been excessive when the school resource officer allegedly struck a student unprovoked.
In this case, the student argued that the school resource officer violated the student’s Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights to be free from excessive force by allegedly striking the student unprovoked after the school resource officer deescalated a conflict between the student and a peer. In response, the school resource officer claimed qualified immunity regarding both claims. The federal appellate court agreed with the student on the Fourth Amendment claim and with the school resource officer on the Fourteenth Amendment claim.
In support of its decision in favor of the student on Fourth Amendment claim, the federal appellate court explained that according to the student’s version of events, the student had not committed any crime, did not pose an immediate threat to the safety of the school resource officer or other students, and was not actively resisting the school resource officer or ignoring the school resource officer’s directives.
Iin support of its decision in favor of the school resource officer on the Fourteenth Amendment claim, the federal appellate court explained that the Fourteenth Amendment claim was covered by the Fourth Amendment claim and the claim needed to be reviewed under the Fourth Amendment claim rather than the fuzzier substantive due process standard.
To read this case, click here.
Authors: Matthew John Markling and the McGown & Markling Team.
Note: This blog entry does not constitute – nor does it contain – legal advice. Legal jurisprudence is like the always-changing Midwestern weather. As a result, this single blog entry cannot substitute for consultation with a McGown & Markling attorney. If legal advice is needed with respect to a specific factual situation, please feel free to contact a McGown & Markling attorney.